The federal Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 mandates that drivers of certain types of vehicles, such as trucks that have gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more or carry 16 or more passengers, obtain a Commercial Driver's License. The law requires each state to establish its own CDL programs under the rules established in the legislation. The Mississippi Department of Public Safety oversees the CDL program for its state.
To qualify for a Mississippi CDL for interstate driving, candidates must be at least 21 years of age. Candidates who are at least 18 years old can qualify for a Mississippi CDL to drive only on Mississippi's roads. All candidates for a CDL must pass a vision test. Applicants who wish to operate a vehicle outside of Mississippi must also pass a physical examination. Those with a history of heart attacks, diabetes that requires insulin and other medical conditions that cause decreased mobility or a risk of sudden incapacity are ineligible for an interstate Mississippi CDL license.
All candidates for a CDL in Mississippi must undergo a check of their driving histories. Candidates found to have previous violations, such as driving under the influence, are ineligible for a license. Additionally, candidates applying for an H endorsement on their CDLs to transport hazardous materials must pass a criminal background check. A history of felony or misdemeanor convictions may prevent candidates from obtaining an H endorsement, based upon the nature of their crimes.
Qualified applicants for a Mississippi CDL must first gain a learner's permit prior to obtaining full licenses. Candidates must pass a written examination to receive the permit. The Mississippi Department of Public Safety publishes a manual that details what knowledge is necessary to pass the examinations for each type of CDL and endorsement available in the state. The CDL learner's permit remains valid for six months, during which time candidates can practice their driving skills on the road with a CDL-licensed driver beside them in the passenger seat.
Once prospective CDL drivers feel confident in their driving skills, they must register to take the skills test. During the skills test, drivers demonstrate their abilities to perform pre-trip inspections on their vehicles. Then, they execute maneuvers on a closed course. Finally, drivers take to the road, demonstrating additional skills on a real highway setting. The test is given at the state's 11 district offices as well as at 72 private locations across Mississippi.